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MPs/Peers hear of Illegal sale of Amazon rainforest plots from BBC World Service

On 16 April, BGIPU and the BBC World Service co-hosted a virtual discussion on the illegal sale of Amazon Rainforest plots. The meeting was co-chaired by BGIPU Executive Committee and International Development Committee Member, Kate Osamor MP, and Climate Committee Chair, Lord Deben, and was well-attended by a group of MPs and Peers with an interest in climate change and the Amazon Rainforest.

The BBC’s Interim Director of International Services, Mary Hockaday began the presentations with an overview of how the BBC reports on climate change issues, noting that easily accessible information on the effects of climate change is of particular importance in the runup to COP26. The documentary director and BBC journalist, Charlotte Pamment then explained how they carried out the investigation and what the key findings were. She outlined the complexities of going undercover in such a hostile environment where activists and indigenous people are regularly kidnapped and killed over land disputes.

Participants were shown clips from the documentary and Facebook marketplace advertisements which demonstrate the largescale theft of land located within protected indigenous reserves. The plots of land, which can be equal in size to 57 football pitches, are then deforested and sold on Facebook to third parties for agricultural development. Charlotte explained that those who purchase the land lobby politicians to grant them titles to legitimise the illegal plot.

BBC reporter, Joao Fellet’s presentation built upon this theme of impunity which results from a lack of political will. He outlined how deforestation in Brazil is at its highest level in decades because of loopholes in legislation and the strong presence of mining and agriculture lobbying in Congress. Although Brazil has comprehensive environmental protection legislation, it is ineffectual because regulation agencies have had their budgets cut and no penalties are imposed on those who abuse it.

The event highlighted the impact that poorly implemented climate legislation can have on our environment’s wellbeing. There are sufficient laws to protect the rainforest but neither the Government, nor Facebook are doing enough to ensure that they are upheld. Once 25% of the Amazon Rainforest has been deforested, it becomes unable to sustain itself and what remains will dry up. It is expected that this sad prediction will become a reality in a matter of years if action is not taken to protect it.

BGIPU Secretariat